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Archive for the ‘crafty’ Category

Have you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (i.e. CPSIA)? It’s a piece of legislation initially prompted by all the problems with lead in toys over the past couple of years. The motives behind it are good, I think, but unfortunately the execution and wording of it is beyond ludicrous. Here is an excellent article in Forbes that summarizes the situation – go read it.

It would be awfully nice if people could think through potential consequences before passing a law. There’s definitely a reason that there’s a site called National Bankruptcy Day on this topic. It’s not just toys – it’s ANY product made for children under 12. Not to mention other unintended reprecussions: What about thrift and secondhand stores? As it stands they would be held liable for everything sell. Sure, maybe you don’t want to buy certain older toys secondhand anyway, but we’re also talking about all clothing, coats, shoes, etc. According to the law as it stands, it should all be thrown in the landfill, and we should all be forced to buy everything new. What about libraries? All those dangerous books for kids that haven’t been tested for lead!

I’m a mom. I was certainly disturbed, to say the least, by the lead in toys (mainly from China). One of my personal solutions to that was to buy mostly hand- or locally-made toys for my kids this Christmas, for example. To cut back on plastics and go for natural materials instead. However, my four year old son LOVES superheroes, which means I’m not entirely turning my back on toys made by big companies (which means made in China). So of course I want to be able to know that they’re safe.

BUT SURELY I CAN HAVE THAT ASSURANCE WITHOUT IT DRIVING SMALL TOY COMPANIES AND LOCAL CRAFTERS OUT OF BUSINESS. After all, I have friends (in real life, even, and more on the internet) who sell children’s products both online and off, who will be devestated by this law as it currently stands. I myself would like to eventually sell some toys on etsy and don’t want to have to commit a FELONY to do it. I believe the two things – keeping our kids safe and supporting small, often local, businesses – do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.

They can do better. And if they can’t, well, someone else should be doing it.

The CPSIA was supposed to go into effect on February 10th. I am happy to report that it has been postponed for another year, during which time we can hopefully FIX it (or else start all over, for crying out loud). But now that we have time to effect change, that is exactly when we need to push harder.

The Handmade Toy Alliance site has a page on how you can help with very convenient links for contacting your Congressperson and Senators. PLEASE go there, I promise it doesn’t take long, and tell them that they can do better on this.

Relevant links all in one spot (plus my sidebar button):


ETA 11/30: The ear section in particular is a bit tricky. I am editing the instructions slightly, and will be adding have added a video. If you have more questions or troubleshooting,  please, leave me a comment! (Or, hey, even if you just like it…)

At last, the pattern! It works up quite small – he rests in the palm of your hand. (I’ll try to add a photo to make the scale clear.) I tested it making a pink fox for my daughter – perhaps I will add a pic later. Let me know if there are mistakes, or I need to clarify. Feel free to make many little foxes – and please, I’d love to see photos! – but please do not copy the pattern to your own site – leave a link instead. Also, please do not sell the pattern, nor make them and sell them online. Thanks.

Little Fox
By me! S. J. Montgomery

amigurumi fox

Stitches used:

  • Magic ring
  • inc = increase
  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet
  • sl st = slip stitch
  • f.l. = front loop
  • invdec = invisible decrease
  • four loop bobble (in feet): (Yarn over hook and insert hook into stitch; yo and pull up a loop; yo and pull the yarn through 2 loops) repeat this 3 times into the same stitch – you will have 4 loops on your hook. YO and pull through all 4 loops. Here is a nice video tutorial; this site also has a few pictures.

Please note: normally I suggest, when making amigurumi, alternating the pattern a little to avoid lines, i.e. if the pattern of the round is (1 + inc) around and the next is (2 + inc) around, I would say alternate whether you start with the 1 sc or the inc, so as to avoid a line where all the inc are lined up. HOWEVER, in the head part of this pattern, it is important to follow the instructions so as to get the proper shaping. In the body and tail you may want to try the alternating I talked about above.

Head & Body

1. 4 sc in magic ring
2. inc every stitch (8)
3. sc around (8)
4. 2 sc, 3 inc, 3 sc (11) [insert nose]
5. 2 sc, (1 sc, inc) 3 times, 3 sc (14)
6. inc, 2 sc, (inc, 1 sc) 4 times, 3 sc (19) [place eyes between rounds 5 & 6 where the head widens (opposite your starting st), 6 st apart. You can wait until you make the ears before inserting them.]
7. sc around

Making the ears, they are worked as part of the head. [If you have trouble, look in the comments/ask a question there for help, or try the new video tutorial. Also embedded at the bottom of the post.]

8. 6 sc, (sc into front loop of st above eye, ch 3, skip 1st ch, 2 sc [down chain], sc into f.l. next head st of rnd; turn [work up ear], sc, sl st; turn [work down ear], sl st, sl st into f.l. of next head st) 3 sl st in f.l. of next 3 sts in round; repeat parentheses once, 4 sc
9. sc around (through back loops of ear sections) (19)
10. invdec, 2 sc, invdec, 2 sc, 2 invdec, 2 sc, invdec, sc, invdec [goes one st into next row, move marker for new starting stitch] (12)
11. sc, 2 inc, 7 sc, 3 inc (18)
12. (2 inc, 2 sc) 4 times, 2 sc (26)
13-17.   sc around
18. (2 sc, dec) around, 2 sc (17)
19. sc around
20. (invdec, sc) around, invdec (13)

Stuff head & body firmly.

21. 6 invdec, one st left (7)

Drawstring (using needle, weave yarn tail through front loop of each stitch and pull tight) closed.


Start with white.

1. 3 sc in ring
2. inc around (6)

Switch colors.

3. (1 sc + inc) around (9)
4. (1 sc + inc) around (13)
5-8. sc around
9. (1 sc + invdec) around, 1 sc (9)
10. (1 sc + invdec) around (6)

Stuff lightly.

11. invdec around (3)

Drawstring closed. Leave long tail of yarn, sew to body.

Legs (make 4)

1. 5 sc in ring
2. 2 sc, bobble, 2 sc
3. sc around
4. sc around, attach with sl st to next st.

Tuck tail from magic ring into foot. Leave long tail of yarn, sew to body.

he wants to play {24/366}

So about a week ago or so I started this pattern: Granite Stitch Poncho. I liked it when I saw it – it looked easy, and there were NO TASSELS. I am not fond of tassels. It’d be nice to have a something warm but not too heavy to wear, I thought.

11 06 08 032

I bit the bullet earlier and ordered some of the yarn mentioned in the pattern – I wanted to use actual wool. It was in fact my first time using “real” yarn, real natural fiber (wool in this case), apart from cotton. Thankfully acrylic works well for toys, because I just don’t know if I can afford to get really crazy with the real yarn – $12 a skein! Eesh! And that’s nothing compared to some. I will have to learn how to spin like my (online) friend Teri. Anyway. (I do have to say – the pattern (with photo) says they used the Jaguar colorway – but I think they’re smokin’ the crack. I think they must have used the Shadows colorway – it is the lighter gray color shown in the photo. Jaguar is much darker gray, almost black, with green in it. But I like it, so all is well.)

11 06 08 018

It’s a really easy pattern, very straight forward, ingenious but easy construction. The stitch is really easy, I think it would make a lovely scarf or possibly shawl – or even afghan. For some reason I had trouble getting the gauge right. The starting chain (and how loose the chains were) affected it a lot. If I were to make this again for myself (which I’m NOT – I already frogged one piece of it entirely and did it over, that’s quite enough, thanks, even if it is an easy pattern) I would get a bit more yarn and make it wider, cover my arms a little more. But as it stands it’s easy to wear and still actually use your arms, so that’s a plus. I also chain stitched around the neck opening, just because. It’s pretty, and warm enough for cool (though probably not cold) weather, so all in all – success.

11 06 08 024

Now if I can just figure out these stinkin’ fingerless gloves….

Here it is, the long awaited… questions and comments are welcome.

Gumball the Kitten, part deux

Pattern for Gumball the Kitten amigurumi (worsted weight)

(Feel free to make many Gumballs for yourself, family and friends. Please do not sell nor repost the pattern – links back are much appreciated. Thank you.)

Please note edit at the bottom, or, even better, go to my new blog location for the edited pattern; look under the “crafty” tab at the top.

worsted weight acrylic yarn
E (3.5mm) hook
animal safety eyes (9 mm & felt, 6mm for mouth) and nose, or floss for embroidering features
fiberfill for stuffing
yarn needle

Gauge: tight enough so the stuffing doesn’t show through


  1. 6 sc in magic ring
  2. +6 inc every st around (12)
  3. +6 (1 sc + inc) around (18 )
  4. +6 (2 sc + inc) around (24)
  5. +3 (7 sc + inc) around (27)
  6. +3 (8 sc + inc) around (30)
  7. sc in each sc around (30)
  8. sc in each sc around (30)
  9. -12 (5 invdec + 1 sc) around (18 )
  10. (1 + dec) around
  11. dec around

Place eyes, nose and mouth and stuff firmly around round 9 or 10.

Fasten off and drawstring closed.


  1. 6 sc in magic ring
  2. +6 inc every st around (12)
  3. +6 (1 sc + inc) around (18 )
  4. +6 (2 sc + inc) around (24)
  5. +6 (3 sc + inc) around (30)
  6. +3 (9 sc + inc) around (33)
  7. +3 (10 sc + inc) around (36)
  8. +3 (11 sc + inc) around (39)
  9. sc in each sc around
  10. sc in each sc around
  11. -3 (11 sc + invdec) around (36)
  12. -6 (4 sc + invdec) around (30)
  13. -6 (3 sc + invdec) around (24)
  14. -6 (2 sc + invdec) around (18 )

Fasten off with sl st, leaving a tail for sewing.

Front Legs (make 2)

  1. 4 sc in magic ring
  2. +4 inc every st (8 )
  3. +4 (1 sc + inc) around (12) – sc, inc, inc, sc, sc, inc, inc, sc
  4. sc in each sc around
  5. sc in each sc around
  6. -3 (9) – sc, sc, dec, sc, dec, sc, sc, dec, sc
  7. -2 (7)
  8. sc in each sc around

Fasten off with sl st, leaving a tail for sewing.

Back Legs (make 2)

  1. 6 sc in magic ring
  2. inc every st around (12)
  3. (1 sc + inc) around (18 )
  4. sc in each sc around
  5. 3 invdec, sc around, leave 1 sc in rnd (11)
  6. 3 invdec, sc 5 hdc, sc, finish with sl st, leave tail for sewing on.


  1. 6 sc in magic ring
  2. sc around (6)
  3. sc around, inc 2 st (8 )
  4. sc around
  5. repeat row 4, approximately 9 times (total rows appr. 13)

Fasten off with sl st, leave tail (ha!) for sewing.

Ears (make 2)

  1. 4 in ring
  2. 1 + inc
  3. inc +2
  4. inc, 2 sc, 2 inc, 2 sc, inc

Fasten off with sl st, leaving a tail for sewing.


Nestle the ball of the head into the hole of the body (after stuffing firmly) and sew together. Sew on legs, ears and tail.

EDIT: Itsybitsyspidercrochet was kind enough to post some errata for this pattern; find it here.

I’m probably behind the times, but Ravelry, it is so cool. I think it’s about to open to the whole public (which is to say, invitations not required). If you knit or crochet or spin, it’s terribly useful. You can catalog your stash of yarn or fiber, your pattern books, and all your sizes of hooks and needles; you can put up pictures of your finished projects AND keep track of works-in-progress. And it’s all linked to the patterns you used as well. AND you can search for patterns and either mark them as favorite for inspiration, or even put them in a queue to be made. Plus groups and other networking type things, and something with linking blog posts, but I’m not an expert on that feature yet. Check it out though, and go see my projects while you’re at it. (We’ll see if that link works.)

ETA: The worsted pattern is now up.

People must really like free patterns, ’cause I get a lot of traffic on my Gumball pattern page. I understand that, goodness knows I like free patterns myself. However, I just wasn’t entirely satisfied with my Gumball pattern. Then I wanted to make my sister a Gumball for Christmas. And I love my seester SO much, I decided I was willing to brave the evil yarn again for her.

Unfortunately, the making part didn’t really get started until, well, the plane ride to the east coast on Christmas Eve. And plane rides by oneself with two small children are certainly not conducive to crocheting with difficult yarn. So in the interest of finishing the blasted thing, like, ever, I switched back to worsted. But I DID decide that I was going to rework the unsatisfactory pattern a bit as I went.

Mostly I decided to change the face — I’m not big on the spiral in the middle face, I much prefer the across the horizontal stripes face. So there it is. I also made the tail more curled around, and added back legs (partly at my brother’s urging, and since he was keeping me company during the final making and assembly stages at about 1 am Christmas Eve, I humored him). I do think my original fuzzy-yarn Gumball looks good with no back legs, but worsted is a whole ‘nother story. And I changed the ears; again a case of something that works great with the fuzzy yarn but just isn’t right for the worsted.

All right, enough meta-chatter. Now below is (what else!) a slide show of some pics of the new and improved (IMHO) Gumball the Kitten. Enjoy. If/when I put up the revised pattern, I’ll certainly let you know.

(If you can’t see the slideshow, go to my Gumball set on Flickr.)

  • In: crafty
  • Comments Off on handmade for Christmas

Though I support the notion, I didn’t actually take the Handmade Pledge this past year/holiday season (mostly because I have a little boy who is enamored of Ninja Turtles and other superheroes), but ya know, I almost may as well have.

I papered, I crocheted, I even sewed some. Fun fun fun. But instead of telling you about it, I’ll just show you. Watch out people, I have discovered slide.com. And it uses my photos from Flickr instead of making me upload them to yet another location. Joy! Rapture! So, here you may view my holiday creations. (Less a dozen basic drawstring bags made from Christmas fabric for reusably wrapping gifts. It’s so pleasant to just fold up the pretty wrapping “paper” instead of wadding and stuffing and crinkling.)

In case the slide show doesn’t work for you, here’s a link to the photo set on Flickr.

Too bad I didn’t find this pattern for the TMNTs earlier — I might have gone handmade all the way… though it might be a little hard to convince my kiddos that Santa brings crocheted toys when they watch me make them (or something similar) all the time…. I’ll probably end up making these ninja turtles anyway, and a pink one for my daughter, who will be overjoyed.

ETA: I realized I neglected to link to all the lovely free patterns I used. Shame on me!

Little ninja: I used Caron Simply Soft Black and Light Country Peach, 9 mm black eyes. (Stay tuned: I’m making a ninja cat with this pattern… it’ll have blue cat eyes.)

Dragon: Caron Simply Soft Violet, embroidery floss for eyes, Perle cotton for claws.

Blue Totoro: Caron Simply Soft Dark Country Blue, Red Heart Soft Yarn white, black Perle cotton, felt, safety eyes (9mm)

White Totoro: Red Heart Soft Yarn, white, Caron Simply Soft pink, black embroidery floss, felt

Soot gremlins (aka fuzzballs): Bernat Fun Fur, black; googly eyes. I made one large and five small.
I also plan to make some acorns from this free pattern. Though perhaps not with faces.

Tiny airplane: Caron Simply Soft White; Red Heart Soft, Cherry; blue embroidery floss for windows.

Gumball: my pattern of course. I used Caron Simply Soft Brites, Watermelon. Also felt, 9 mm eyes, a flocked 10mm nose, and a 6mm eye for the mouth.

TDD rocks

Please spread the word

Here's my post on the topic.